Friday Hodgepodge

Friday, July 10, 2020

Four Things

1. In October, Boom will be unveiling a scaled prototype of its planned "Overture" fifty-seat, supersonic jetliner:

Boom Supersonic is the only private supersonic company funded all the way through to flight test says chief executive Blake Scholl.

Mr. Scholl told AirlineRatings in an exclusive interview at last year's Paris Air Show that there would be many thousands of test-flight hours for the XB-1.

The prototype is a proof of concept before production of a full scale 50-seat supersonic airliner, to be called the "Overture".

The timeline for the planned entry into airline service has now also slipped from the previously envisaged 2023-24 to between 2025 and 2027. [format edits]
Japan Airlines is Boom's first major airline partner, and has an option for twenty of the jetliners.

2. Pinboard, my favorite bookmarking service -- which is also a one-man show -- is now eleven. On the occasion, its proprietor informs us of some behind-the-scenes maintenance and improvements in his usual entertaining style:
Doing this on a live system is like performing kidney transplants on a playing mariachi band. The best case is that no one notices a change in the music; you chloroform the players one at a time and try to keep a steady hand while the band plays on. The worst case scenario is that the music stops and there is no way to unfix what you broke...
Maciej Cegłowski notes that he will be adding a few new features soon. Fortunately, this is coming from someone who did not like what the once-simple Delicious became after its "upgrades."

So this reads to me more like the promise of new functionality than the threat of bloat and broken workflows that the u-word so often means these days.

3. Speaking of bookmarks, here's a site I've tagged for later on when my kids are old enough: Progress Studies for Aspiring Young Scholars.

The landing page for the guided self-study program reads in part:
This program will explore: what problems, challenges and hardships in life and work were faced by people in earlier generations and centuries? And how did we solve those problems through science, technology, and invention?

Learn about manufacturing from blacksmiths to assembly lines; about power from water wheels to combustion to electricity; about food from famine to industrial agriculture and genetically modified crops; about disease from basic sanitation to scientific medicine -- and the struggles and circumstances of the men and women who worked to bend the arc of humanity upward.

Your learning will be supported by instructors who will help you develop your reasoning and research skills. You'll also have the chance to engage ideas with a community of like-minded peers.
Most of our education system completely neglects instruction about the history entire idea of industrial and technological progress, so learning about this program is welcome news indeed.

The current paid program, which is relatively inexpensive and has a manageable time commitment, is geared towards high-school students, but there are plans to develop a college-level version. In addition, content will be made available for free self-study later this summer.

4. When government limits and freedom from regulation collide, you get a physician who makes more from his side-hustle than from his profession:
Image by Kyle Glenn, via Unsplash, license.
He's just posted a video on how he uses Notion to organize his YouTube activities. That doesn't sound too exciting until you discover that he makes more from his Youtube videos than he does as a doctor. Although he describes his YouTube and other activities as a "side hustle," a case could be made that medicine is the real side hustle and that he's primarily a YouTuber. He's currently aiming at posting 3 videos a week and has a support team to edit the videos and perform other vaguely administrative chores. [links omitted]
This interesting tidbit comes from a blog I check occasionally for productivity advice. In this case, the blogger's take-home, though, sounds quite a bit like something I already do.

-- CAV


Georgia: Not on Their Minds

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Amidst media hysteria over sharp rises in confirmed corona cases in Texas and Florida comes commentary by Matt Strauss. The Canadian physician and medical professor speaks of the deafening silence about Georgia -- which also dared defy respectable blue state opinion by reopening for business. Strauss's City Journal piece reads in part:

Image by Victor Diaz Lamich, via Wikimedia Commons, license.
On April 21, the Washington Post called Georgia "America's No. 1 Death Destination." On April 29, The Atlantic declared the state's early reopening an "Experiment in Human Sacrifice." On April 30, The New York Times was a bit stodgier, saying merely that Georgia had "Screwed Up." After two months, though, Georgia remains open, and its Covid death rate stands at 27.2 per 100,000 -- well below the U.S. average of 39.7 per 100,000, and eight times lower than the state of New Jersey.

...

... Absent an effective vaccine or transformative treatment, and given the economic devastation of long-term lockdowns, why not focus public-health efforts going forward on the vulnerable, and allow young healthy people to resume life, taking certain precautions? This is what Georgia has done. Governor Brian Kemp lifted the statewide lockdown on April 30 but ordered persons over 65 and the "medically fragile" to continue sheltering in place. This policy continued until June 11, when healthy elders were let out. Indeed, cases of Covid-19 have been increasing in Georgia since about June 11, with a rapid upward inflection of the curve coincident with ongoing Black Lives Matter street protests and increased testing capacity. If these new cases are found predominantly in young healthy people, or are a function of increased testing rates, we may hope that they will not yield an increase in daily Covid-19 deaths -- and bring the state closer to herd immunity. [links in original, bold added]
As best as I can tell, Florida's governor has pursued similar policies to that of Georgia, and Florida's new cases are occurring primarily among a less at-risk age cohort. As I noted yesterday, time will tell whether Florida will look more like Georgia or New York, but my money is on the former, and I fully expect to hear absolutely nothing about it from our negligent-at-best news media.

-- CAV


Fumento's Latest Barrage

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

The American news consumer could be forgiven for thinking the guy who couldn't see the forest for the trees was in an enviable position. (Image by Zbysiu Rodak, via Unsplash, license.)
In an age when it seems that every major media outlet, left or right, politicizes everything, it can be helpful to follow the odd contrarian -- in addition to hearing both "sides" and paying attention to experts, of course.

Regarding the corona pandemic, which is neither the left's Armageddon nor the right's hoax, my favorite contrarian has been Michael Fumento, and he recently put out three new columns focusing on various aspects of media coverage of the epidemic.

Of these, my personal favorite is the one linked above at three, which appeared a few days ago in Townhall Finance. It discusses the recent upsurge in cases, as well as some of the lurid coverage of complications alleged to be due to the new disease:
We also saw lots of attention given to, as a Washington Post headline put it, "Young and middle-aged people, barely sick with covid-19 ... dying of strokes." Turns out it was essentially based on a study comprising five (5) people. A later wider analysis concluded (translated from Spanish) "Stroke does not appear to be a major manifestation of Covid-19...

As testing has expanded from the clearly sick to persons with no symptoms, we're getting more headlines like: "Coronavirus is infecting more young people in their 20s and 30s... " Right. That's the way it works.

And the game continues. Now the Florida Sun-Sentinel breathlessly informs us that two people who tested positive for COVID-19 have appendicitis. With "only" 250,000 Americans getting that disease annually and 2.3 million positive for coronavirus, it cannot possibly be sheer overlap. [links in original, format edits]
Regarding that five-person study: Three of those had comorbidities that put them at risk of stroke. Fumento notes another couple of egregious cases of the media incorrectly attributing the deaths of young people to the disease. These are all helpful reminders of the poor quality of American journalism overall.

That said, Fumento isn't flawless or completely objective. I've already dinged him for pooh-poohing models as such -- which FiveThirtyEight has since started making available for perusal. And regarding this last batch of articles, my main reservation is that his discussion of how lockdowns may or may not be effective is flawed in a similar way to his discussion of models. From the piece linked at column above, we have:
And inevitably the media ignore rising testing in favor of the explanation they presumed from the start, as with "Alarming Rise in Coronavirus Cases as States Roll Back Lockdowns." It's merely synchronous. They were convinced through confirmation bias or whatever that lifting lockdowns would lead to increased cases and their bias has been seemingly confirmed. [link omitted, bold added]
I oppose lockdowns (and agree with this editorial), but strongly suspect that they probably overall reduced transmission rates.

One could more effectively critique coverage of the increased number of cases by conceding this point and noting that case number increases should lag the end of the lockdowns -- and note that the increased number of cases is, in many places, among a younger (and less at-risk) population and would likely have been missed altogether without the better testing availability we have now.

And speaking of lagging indicators, hospitalizations and deaths from the localized outbreaks will be the proof in the pudding. I wouldn't feel entirely comfortable calling the "second wave" a "scam" (as Fumento does at column above) -- although I wouldn't call it a "second wave," either.

I have reasons enough based on my age and family background to be concerned about this virus, and will be especially interested in seeing how the outbreak in my home state of Florida plays out. Whatever his faults, I am grateful to Michael Fumento for exposing some of the more ridiculous claims about this disease I keep hearing.

In the meantime, I'll continue adding my own grains of salt to whatever I hear from him, the media, and even the experts -- many of whom really undermined their own credibility by changing their tune about social distancing the moment there came a left-wing cause masquerading as a call for racial equality.

-- CAV


Left, Right; To-may-to, To-mah-to.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Image by The National Cancer Institute, via Unsplash, license.
Over three months ago, government officials across the country started locking things down in a panicked response to the beginning of the corona epidemic. These lockdowns were sold to the public as a temporary measure to keep from overwhelming hospitals. But we all know where that went, as someone from Illinois quipped on Twitter: "Day 110 of 15 days to 'flatten the curve.'"

This is bad enough, and I am glad that the good folks at the Ayn Rand Institute have argued in editorials and at length that a major part of preparing for the next pandemic will be defining the role of the government ahead of time.

But the problem is much bigger than that: Our government has played the role of central planner for so long that nobody bats an eye anymore -- much less offers an alternative. Our educational system is a case in point and the epidemic has just given us a stark example.

Ever since the early stages of the epidemic, the schools have been closed. Locally closing schools for a short time is a common method of dealing with disease outbreaks. But children do not appear to be as susceptible to this disease or as prone to spreading it as adults. Keeping the schools closed -- indefinitely and everywhere -- makes no sense as a policy: The government shouldn't continue such school closures as a means of controlling the epidemic.

This question is complicated by the fact that our education sector is mostly socialized. Even with a proper policy regarding the epidemic, we have the government improperly running the schools, and so we have news stories like, "Florida Department of Education Orders Schools to Reopen to Students 5 Days a Week in August," and what a top-down, one-size-fits-all solution it is:
Those requirements include ensuring services that are legally required for all students, such as low-income services, English language learning and accommodations for students with disabilities are all maintained next school year, the order states.

That means that the only option for schools to not be physically open in August is if local Department of Health officials say schools cannot open, according to the emergency order.

The order also means that school districts cannot schedule certain students to spend part of their time in school and part of their time at home, as educational leaders in several First Coast counties have indicated they are considering. Every student must have the option of being in school five days a week. [bold added]
This might sound relatively harmless, and even flexible, in the sense that the order isn't forcing all the students -- say children whose parents are high risk or not convinced that children don't spread the disease -- to physically attend school.

But it does override some slightly more flexible plans at the county level, such as the one my county has proposed that incorporates students being in classes part-time during periods of increased spread of the virus. The state plan removes that from the table, which would probably result in pressure on the county health department to close the schools completely during those times.

So we have an order that sounds like it forces every public school student to attend class in a building in the fall, but doesn't -- and that sounds like it will keep schools in session, but probably won't. So, on top of the many crimes of a government-run education system, we now see what little creative thinking and flexibility there still was being quashed by top-down planning.

Probably the strangest part of this "emergency order" is the following:
The emergency order comes the same day President Donald Trump posted a tweet emphatically stating "SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!"
The government shouldn't be running schools at all, nor should it be operating anything by decree. Interestingly, even though Trump's general sentiment happens to be right here, the wrongness of rule by force is on full display: This loyalty-signaling decree actually will make it more likely that schools will end up closed altogether in some parts of Florida, if the epidemic becomes unmanageable there.

This is but icing on the cake. The real crime is that so many parents have been lured by price or forced by taxation into these schools, which were (and will) always be insulated from market forces and subject to the whim of bureaucrats. The fact that these same parents will be made less able to plan their time is a direct result of this centralized control and the lack of options caused by the existence of government schools in the first place. (It's hard to compete with "free.")

Forcing all schools to open is not fundamentally different than forcing them all to close. The real solution is to free the schools to operate as best as the needs and judgement of the parents and students at each particular school indicate, along with the freedom enjoyed by paying customers in any other free industry to seek alternatives when they are not satisfied.

-- CAV

P.S. This reminds me of how conservative states deal with the question of labor unions. Rather than leave companies and employees free to unionize or not, they interfere with freedom of contract in the opposite direction, in the form of "right to work" laws.


History, and Unit- (AND Time- !) Economy

Monday, July 06, 2020

Those who study the works of Ayn Rand will sooner or later become familiar with the idea of unit-economy, that is, of concepts enabling man's mind to increase its awareness of the world far beyond what it would be able to juggle at the perceptual level.

Regarding the latter, Rand spoke of the "crow epistemology," a limitation in our ability to function at the perceptual level. Her student, Leonard Peikoff, puts it this way:

Image by Jesse van Vliet, via Unsplash, license.
This experiment illustrates a principle applicable to man's mind as well. Man too can deal with only a limited number of units. On the perceptual level, human beings are better than crows; we can distinguish and retain six or eight objects at a time, say -- speaking perceptually, i.e., assuming we see or hear the objects but do not count them. But there is a limit for us, too. After a certain figure -- when the objects approach a dozen, to say nothing of hundreds or thousands -- we too are unable to keep track and collapse into the crow's indeterminate "many." Our mental screen, so to speak, is limited; it can contain at any one time only so many data. Consciousness, any consciousness, is finite. A is A. Only a limited number of units can be discriminated from one another and held in the focus of awareness at a given time. Beyond this number, the content becomes an unretainable, indeterminate blur or spread, like this: /////////////////////////

For a consciousness to extend its grasp beyond a mere handful of concretes, therefore -- for it to be able to deal with an enormous totality, like all tables, or all men, or the universe as a whole -- one capacity is indispensable. It must have the capacity to compress its content, i.e., to economize the units required to convey that content. This is the basic function of concepts. Their function, in Ayn Rand's words, is "to reduce a vast amount of information to a minimal number of units ...." [bold added] (Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, by Leonard Peikoff, p. 106)
The above is easy enough to grasp with low-level concepts, such as table or chair or human being, but we can (and do) also abstract further from concepts (correctly formed or not):
You have no choice about the necessity to integrate your observations, your experiences, your knowledge into abstract ideas, i.e., into principles. Your only choice is whether these principles are true or false, whether they represent your conscious, rational convictions -- or a grab-bag of notions snatched at random, whose sources, validity, context and consequences you do not know, notions which, more often than not, you would drop like a hot potato if you knew...

You might say, as many people do, that it is not easy always to act on abstract principles. No, it is not easy. But how much harder is it, to have to act on them without knowing what they are? [bold added]
Having briefly thought about how we form and why we need abstract ideas, it is a worthwhile exercise to consider the ideas of government in general (and police in particular) in light of recent events. Let's start with Ayn Rand's pithy, principled summary of what we saw in Seattle, which she foresaw decades ago:
Anarchy, as a political concept, is a naive floating abstraction: ... a society without an organized government would be at the mercy of the first criminal who came along and who would precipitate it into the chaos of gang warfare. But the possibility of human immorality is not the only objection to anarchy: even a society whose every member were fully rational and faultlessly moral, could not function in a state of anarchy; it is the need of objective laws and of an arbiter for honest disagreements among men that necessitates the establishment of a government.[bold added]
And now, let's hear an update on the very predictable results of our most recent experiment with anarchy, as told by a couple of journalists:
[O]nce they created a police-free zone, they immediately had to deal with all those issues and more -- with only the donated time and supplies of fellow protesters, who still had day jobs. With police absent from the 6-square-block area, the experiment spun out of control, with accusations that it ended up causing exactly what it had aimed to stop: more violence against Black people. [bold added]
If anarchism -- like socialism -- fails every time it is tried, why do people keep trying it? Because neither their proponents nor, frequently their would-be opponents -- who should have an advantage in any debate -- really know what government is or what it is for. And that is because they have failed to form valid principles for understanding how a society must be organized to be successful. (In addition, opponents who are absolutely correct may fail at persuasion for a variety of reasons.)

It is worthwhile to consider this in light of something else Rand said about concepts:
The formation of a concept provides man with the means of identifying, not only the concretes he has observed, but all the concretes of that kind which he may encounter in the future. Thus, when he has formed or grasped the concept "man," he does not have to regard every man he meets thereafter as a new phenomenon to be studied from scratch: he identifies him as "man" and applies to him the knowledge he has acquired about man (which leaves him free to study the particular, individual characteristics of the newcomer, i.e., the individual measurements within the categories established by the concept "man"). [italics in original, bold added](Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, by Ayn Rand, pp. 27-28)
It is the same with concepts like society and government: Many people do not have these things properly conceptualized, and so do "study" such phenomena from scratch, essentially by trial-and-error.

And so, where concepts would save an individual's mental capacity, they could also save an individual or a whole society time. (And, in this case, unnecessary bloodshed.)

Rather than go straight to "tear down the system" (or "defund the police," whatever that's supposed to mean), a proper approach would be to consider what "the system" actually is, what part(s) of it we need and why, and how to reach what we need. Even in a case where a system needs tearing down, doing so is worthless without already having a positive alternative in mind.

"History repeats itself," need not be a pronouncement of doom. It is only a description of what happens when, out of ignorance or poor thinking, individuals attempt to solve universal problems without recourse to universals. Our society needn't reinvent or rediscover the police or government. The knowledge is already there and there is a correct and productive way to think about the problems it addresses. And, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, there are people out there who would be selfishly and gratefully receptive to learning more about both.

-- CAV


Friday Hodgepodge

Friday, July 03, 2020

Image by Jon Tyson, via Unsplash, license.
Notable Commentary for May and June, Part II

Continuing from last week...

"What we need and what is realistically achievable is an approach to infectious disease that codifies into law the best aspects of what Taiwan, South Korea and Sweden have implemented." -- Onkar Ghate, in "A Pro-Freedom Approach to Infectious Disease: Preparing for the Next Pandemic" (PDF, white paper) at The Ayn Rand Institute.

"One of the worst days of my career was the day I had to call this charming, intelligent, benevolent man, whose enthusiasm for teaching math and science to children bubbled out of him like water from a spring." -- Rebecca Girn, in "Keeping America Safe From ... Montessori Teachers?" at Medium.

"Many people may not care, because they do not own bonds." -- Keith Weiner, in "Defaults are Coming" at SNB & CHF.

"Under the proposed OSTP [Office of Science and Technology Policy] policy, if a copyrighted, peer-reviewed journal article reports on or discusses research that was funded with only one cent by a government grant, the journal article -- a product created with private, nongovernmental investments that is distinct from the underlying government-funded research -- must be made freely available online immediately upon publication." -- Adam Mossoff, in "Radical OSTP Proposal Would Undermine American Research and Sacrifice American Intellectual Property" (PDF, legal brief) at The Heritage Foundation.

"Now people are being crucified for the actions and views of their relatives." -- Charlotte Cushman, in "Conformity Is the New God in Leftist-Run America" at The American Thinker.

"Reporter Megan Moltini explains the training she received at a coronavirus contact tracing academy." -- Paul Hsieh, in "9 More Bizarre Consequences of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic" at Forbes.

"Populism is where our money is being used to purchase our political allegiance by creating the illusion that government is the source of these benefits." -- Raymond Niles, in "Letter From a Populist" at The American Institute for Economic Research.

"Have you (those of you who approve of Trump's threat against Twitter) thought about how the future president may use the new authority to censor that President Trump will have created for him, if he makes good on his threats against Twitter?" -- Raymond Niles, in "Free Speech Is Not Just Partisan Speech With Which You Agree" at The American Institute for Economic Research.

"[ESG] is a tool used by radical egalitarians to control business decisions by good, profitable companies." -- Don Watkins, in "The ESG Myth" at Medium.

"If we want thought leaders, we need to offer training that equips them for thought leadership -- and encourage the pursuit of for-profit models rather than the non-profit model that dominates our movement." -- Don Watkins, in "The Liberty Movement's Influence Model Is Broken" at Medium.

-- CAV


A Month of Sundays vs. Your Life

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Most commentary I hear regarding individual behavior that could put the brakes on the corona epidemic reminds me of the phrase a month of Sundays, for a variety of reasons. Alicia Sparks of Wise Geek explores the phrase in some detail, of which I find her opening paragraph the most relevant:

Image by Kenny Luo, via Unsplash, license.
The simplest definition of the idiom "a month of Sundays" is "a very long time," though like many sayings, it's possible to dissect this expression and find more literal meanings and cultural origins. For instance, a person might reference the literal idea of a month filled with Sundays, which would reference the time it takes for 30 or 31 Sundays to pass. He might use the saying to refer, directly or indirectly, to the religious and cultural connotations of having a month filled with Sundays or a time period of limited or unexciting activity. Some people use the saying when referring to an event that is impossible or unlikely to happen, just as a month will never be filled with only Sundays. Still, although it might not be universal, this idiomatic expression is widely accepted among many English-speaking cultures as one that means a particular event or time period is extremely long. [bold added]
My complaint stems not from how we must all restructure our calculations of personal risk or from the need to change aspects of our routines that are due directly or indirectly to the virus. If a black bear were in my yard when I wanted to go out, I'd change those things for that circumstance, too, and without thinking of that phrase.

I think of that phrase because the advice is almost always distorted by collectivistic thinking and couched in altruistic terms. I am to think, not so much of my own welfare, but of some number of hospital beds. And I am not to consider how something might affect my life or its quality so much as whether some random person continues his physical existence. Or -- worse -- whether somebody, somewhere, catches the virus at all.

Here's a typical example:
The COVID-19 outbreak in the United States will continue to "get worse before it gets better," but the situation might improve as clinicians gain a better understanding of how to treat the virus in the absence of a vaccine or a cure, experts said Tuesday.

Seeing an improvement assumes the public renews its commitment to "basic" approaches to containing the spread of the virus, including social distancing and wearing face coverings in public, according to Dr. Mark McClellan, a physician and economist who directs the Margolis Center for Health Policy at Duke University.

If the spread of the virus can be slowed, and the stress on the healthcare system caused by increasing numbers of seriously ill patients limited, the United States might be able to contain the outbreak within eight months, McClellan said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday. [bold added, links omitted]
From the beginning, the whole issue of facemasks has been muddled by collectivistic thinking necessitated by government controls of the free market, such as "anti-gouging" laws that caused shortages of face masks. So ... we were first told not to wear masks for selfless reasons, before we were told to wear them, again for selfless, unmotivating reasons.

Each time, expert opinion has been cited, although as far as I can tell, it has been and remains divided on the question of how well they confer protection to the wearer. And this was all against the backdrop of the burdensome, damaging, and blatantly improper government decrees that enforced universal and indefinite detention within our homes.

The latter have been partially lifted, giving us a restless public dying for freedom, but conditioned to act on guidance from above on the matter of the sickness and completely unpracticed at navigating life with this new risk in the background. And our only "guidance" is to do things to keep other people from getting sick?

No wonder some people -- understandably! -- view mask-wearing with scorn, and even those who don't need to be reminded to wear them!

If only selfishness, the long-range and thoughtful consideration of what is best for oneself -- weren't so stigmatized as to be beaten out of so many people from childhood on!

For that very reason, most probably fail to see the contradiction -- or the connection -- between the assertions about the epidemic in the first and second paragraphs quoted above, for example. On the one hand, better treatments are already here and the prospects of a vaccine coming are pretty good. In that sense, it doesn't matter what people do to slow down the spread of the virus: The situation is improving.

On the other hand, the first paragraph provides a great selfish argument to do exactly those things we are being commanded to as if they have nothing to do with our own lives: The longer we go without catching this crud, the more likely we are to get better treatment, or even avoid it altogether.

A selfish person would keep an ear out for evidence about how the disease spreads and how severe it is likely to affect him and anyone he cares about. He'd now likely know to avoid crowds, prolonged close contact, and confined spaces. He'd know that the virus is transmitted mainly by droplets coming from the mouths and noses of other people. If he runs a business, he'd be concerned about harm to his reputation caused by people catching the disease on his premises -- and so take measures like requiring temperature checks or face coverings by his customers and employees.

Likewise, the decision to wear a face mask or face shield would involve (a) a small measure of direct personal protection from larger droplets, (b) the ability to enter public establishments, (c) good will towards the at-risk, and (d) the knowledge that by cutting off transmission paths, including from himself, he keeps hospitals freer to treat anyone he cares about. I find that last much more inspiring than some floating abstraction about the number of ICU beds.

And people would feel personally motivated in a way that those who use masks for superficial virtue-signaling can't and don't. Here's how I think about this and wish others would: The slower this disease spreads, the less likely it is to get me sick and, possibly, into a hospital. I want others to wear masks and will ask them to do so at appropriate times for real, personal reasons. Assuming a self-righteous tone or being rude -- like a virtue-signaler -- would understandably have the opposite effect than I desire: to provoke a careful, self-interested examination of how one confronts this epidemic.

"Flatten the curve" successfully manipulated large numbers of people to drastically change their behavior in unnatural ways for a time. It might have bought the medical sector time to adjust for the epidemic, but it came at the cost of making the personal consequences of this epidemic less real. Rather than sacrificing our quality of life on the altar of the false gods of ICU beds and fashion, let us preserve our freedom and our lives by taking responsibility for keeping ourselves and those we love as safe from this illness as warranted by our own circumstances.

Just as many religious people demonstrate by their actions that they do not take what they hear on Sunday seriously, so are many people reacting to the end of what they laughably call "quarantine." The epidemic is not over, but after our months of Sundays, lots of people are acting like it.

-- CAV

Updates

Today
: Corrected typos.